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California Medical Board Accusation

I was partying my Halloween weekend away when I got a Saturday morning knock on my door and was delivered a hefty certified envelope by the mailman. This one needed 2 signatures – so you know it’s serious.

I ripped into the packet to find several stapled documents which recounted my entire medical board ordeal with Oregon. I didn’t think much else of it and tossed it aside to look over it again once sober.

2 days after signing for this behemoth document – this morning – I decided to read over this jargon-filled document. Needless to say that it’s impossible to decipher it as a physician even though it’s addressed to me.

In summary, this is an accusation brought on by the California Medical Board against me regarding the events which took place in Oregon. I thought that whole ordeal was behind me. I even served out my medical license suspension with my California medical license regarding this.

Here we go again.

I’ll share everything with you below with a heavy heart and the same sinking feeling when all this began back in May 2017 – 19 months ago.

 

California medical board accusation letter

The accusation letter is a lengthy document where the California Medical Board, the “complainant”, names me as the “respondent” and reveals their accusation against me.

I’ve been pouring over the document for nearly two hours and still can’t make sense of it. What I know is that it’s in regards to my Oregon Medical Board investigation, during which I had my medical license suspended for 30 days and paid a $5,000 fine.

There are 4 main sections in this letter which I’ll discuss below.

Parties

The parties involved are the “complainant” and the “respondent”. I’m the latter and the former is represented by the executive director of the Medical Board of California.

Not too much jargon here and it’s fairly easy to understand.

Jurisdiction

In this section, the complainant lists the code sections under which they believe that they have just cause to bring forth the accusation. Here are the ones listed:

Section 2227.  This code states that a physician licensee who is found guilty under the “Medical Practice Act” can have their license suspended, revoked, publicly reprimanded, placed on probation, and/or required to pay various legal costs to the medical board.

Section 2234. If a licensee is charged with unprofessional conduct, such as by another state medical board, then this code gives the California Medical Board to take action against that licensee.

Section 2305. Similar to the above code section, if there is any action taken by another state medical board then this is grounds for California Medical Board to discipline the physician licensee.

Section 141. This section of the code states that once a final action is taken against a licensee by another state then it’s considered conclusive evidence that the licensee was guilty of whatever the fuck they were accused of doing.

The last one doesn’t make sense. If it’s conclusive evidence then what’s the purpose of all this? Just enact your punishment and be done with it.

Cause for discipline

In this section, the California Medical Board lists the disciplinary actions imposed by the Oregon Medical Board. This information is probably obtained by talking to the attorney for the Oregon Medical Board because some of it is bullshit which I already refuted when I went through this exact same process the first time around with Oregon.

The California Medical Board is, in essence, regurgitating the events published in the Oregon Medical Board stipulated order. They published the same lies told by the nurse who got fired.

For those of you who are new to this party, the Oregon Medical Board disciplined me for the following reasons:

  • “an improper physician-patient relationship”
  • “refusal to timely cooperate with the medical board investigation”

The 2 points above were grounds for the Oregon Medical Board to accuse me of unprofessional conduct. Both valid and both of which I am guilty of as I’ve mentioned numerous times on this site.

Prayer

The term “prayer” refers to the specific request for judgement by the complainant. It’s what the California Medical Board would like to see happen to me.

The California Medical board is requesting that the following actions be taken against me and my medical license:

  1. revoke or suspend my medical license
  2. revoke or suspend my ability to supervise PA’s or NP’s
  3. be placed on probation
  4. pay the costs for probation monitoring
  5. “take such other and further action as deemed necessary and proper”

The last one seems superfluous – why even bother with 1-4 if you’re just gonna throw this catch-all at the end.

 

Request for Discovery

This “request for discovery” is another document which is included and it’s even harder to decipher than the first.

It’s 3 pages of legal jargon which is way over my head. This probably bothers me the most because this entire package was delivered to me as a US citizen. Don’t I have the right to have something written in the kind of language which I can understand?

I wouldn’t send a letter to a patient and say “You have multiple, bilateral fibrocystic tumors with minimal spiculations on your breast roentgenogram. ICD10 BH0. N60.29. Fibrosclerosis of unspecified breast.” But, such are the circumstances we have to deal with as physician licensees.

 

Notice of defense

The “notice of defense” are the options available to me in order to defend myself against the California Medical Board accusation.

My options are as you see above:

  1. request a hearing before the medical board
  2. agree to a stipulated settlement
  3. surrender my medical license
  4. have the medical board contact my lawyer directly

 

Option 1: If I request a hearing then I’ll have to submit all sorts of shit to the California Medical Board. They will ask me for a ton of material in writing before I can meet with the investigator. Once I meet with the investigator(s), I will get a chance to appear before the medical board. Much like Oregon, I expect that California will take the word of the nurse as gospel.

Option 2: The stipulated settlement isn’t even on the table yet. I would have to contact the medical board and see if we can reach an agreement which likely would be another medical license suspension, a fine, probation, and maybe another professionalism course or psych evaluation. If they agree then I don’t need a hearing and would just have to serve out the disciplinary sentence. I lean towards this options because it’s the path of least resistance and I’m emotionally drained with this ordeal.

Option 3: Surrendering my medical license will look terrible and I’ve already fallen for this trick once with my employer. When you surrender your medical license it’s reported as you surrendering your medical license during an active and ongoing investigation.

Option 4: I did the lawyer thing and found my lawyer to be quite competent. But you know, at some point you have to stand up for yourself and say enough is enough. Getting a lawyer is definitely the wiser move, but I’m not prepared for another drawn out battle with another medical board, with yet another lawyer. Nor do I want to part with my money for yet another back and forth just to end up with another suspension, a fine, and a 5-year probation.

 

Emotional stress

I already went through it so I am an OG and all my emotional stress was reactionary but likely unnecessary. This situation was going to unfold fairly predictably regardless of how knotted up my panties were.

I could get even more jaded and bitter and play the martyr role. It’s all about the story we keep telling ourselves and others. I’ve met physicians who have built up their medical board investigation into a whole new identity. I’m terrified of becoming that kind of doctor.

I’m no victim and nobody had a gun to my head forcing me to go into or continue practicing medicine. It’s the nature of the profession and yes, it’s a very shitty situation. Sadly and fortunately, I’m not alone.

It’s also good to accept that during these accusations, hearings, investigations, and medical board nonsense, it’s normal to feel emotionally overwhelmed. It’s good to take it easy during these times and minimize any other kind of stress.

4 replies on “California Medical Board Accusation”

Hello Dr. Mo,

I follow your blog, and your articles have been constructive.

Long story short: Born and rise in Argentina, residency in Barcelona, and now in Denver. Cardiologist wanting to change the healthcare system. Ended up being the first medical advisor in a startup. We are in an accelerator program, and we have our first round of funding on November 15th.

I’m connecting them with MDs, communicating ideas, building relationships with potential partnerships and creating workflows. We are discussing equity options and my “title” in the company.

The CEO implies that I’m more than a medical advisor, maybe a Chief Technological Advisor more than a Chief Medical advisor.

Would you mind to give me your opinion? I read that I should ask for a 3-5% stock options. As you can see, I’m a little lost in this new adventure.

Thank you very much for your time, and if you believe that is going to be better to have a phone call, I’ll call you at the number that is on your blog

Wonderful opportunity for you so I’m glad you are in such a position to negotiate.
It’s important to make sure which entity you will get equity in. If it’s the PC (professional corp) then it will be essentially useless. If it’s in the actual corporation or business in which the founders also have options then that’s good.
Trying to gain a board seat might be something to consider since you won’t lose that title even after you are replaced for another CMO or CTO or CIO with more experience. In fact, that’s something to consider – you might be great for them now in the startup and venture phase but once they grow into something more and need to hire an advisor with more connections, you may no longer be the right person for the job. Doesn’t mean you are out of the game, just that you might take on a different role.

3-5% is very high but it’s possible. What’s the valuation? What round of funding are you in, seed, series A/B/C? What’s the company structure and what are they hoping to achieve, buyout or product to market? What about your own future goals, what are you after?

Happy to discuss on a consulting call but this probably all I can type out here. There are a couple of posts on this blog regarding equity sharing in a business.

Thank you so much for your answer!

The founders have options. I’ll ask for a board position and let’s see what happens with the equity option.

We are in an accelerator program (seed) and we want to sell the product, we are not looking for a buyout. The structure of the company is as follows: CEO (data scientist), CDO (architect), me (medical advisor), mentors and salesmen.

I really believe in this project, and I want this to be the beginning of working with companies and change the healthcare system for good. I will like to work with Amazon and/or Google, or maybe government organizations, don’t know yet.

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